According to two recent studies taking diet rich in vitamin C and E helps to delay the onset of Alzheimer’s disease. Alzheimer’s disease is basically a degenerative organic mental disease and is characterized by progressive deterioration in the brain. The symptoms include progressive, irreversible memory loss (dementia), deterioration in intellectual functions, lack of emotions (apathy), speech and gait (manner of walking) disturbances and disorientation (inability to remember or recognize directions, locations, time or persons).
From growing evidence researchers suggest that free radicals (substances having a tendency to damage the cells in the body) that are produced during normal cell processes can contribute to chronic diseases including Alzheimer’s, cancer, heart disease. Vitamin C and E being antioxidants help to neutralize the bad effects of these free radicals and thereby delay the onset of Alzheimer’s disease.
Some of the rich sources of vitamin C include citrus fruits (such as oranges, lemon, Indian gooseberry, lime, guava), tomato, broccoli, green pepper, parsley, and cabbage. The rich sources of vitamin E include vegetable oil, almonds, walnuts, wheat germ, butter, egg yolk, liver, sunflower seeds, broccoli, soyabean.
The first study was done on 5,395 healthy men and women (at least 55 years of age) over a period of 6 years. At the end of the study 146 people were diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. The researchers pointed that the decrease in the risk of Alzheimer’s disease was associated with the increased intake of vitamin C and E in diet and not as supplements. During the study it was also observed that smokers who took high intake of beta-carotene (found in broccoli, spinach, carrots, papaya, pumpkin, lettuce etc.) and flavonoids (both of which are antioxidants) also had a decreased risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.
Another study was done on 815 men and women (65 years or older) and followed up for more than 3 years. At the end of the study about 131 people were diagnosed for Alzheimer’s disease. As per this study those people who had highest dietary intake of vitamin E reduced their risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. But this intake of vitamin E did not show any such effect in people who carried apoE4 gene (a gene that increases the tendency of developing Alzheimer’s disease).
Neither of the studies showed any positive effect in people using dietary supplements (like vitamin pills containing antioxidants). The decrease in the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease was seen only with dietary intake of vitamin C and E.
Although the similar findings of both these studies indicate that Vitamin C and E may prove to be beneficial in preventing the progression of Alzheimer’s disease but still further studies will be needed to understand the exact affect of these antioxidants on the development of Alzheimer’s disease